Jul 19, 2021 at 1: 21 am

A New Paradigm in the World of Clusters

The paradigm is rapidly shifting. Since the early 2010's, clusters and cluster programs have been expanding their theoretical frameworks to better include capital and entrepreneurs.

Christian Rangen & Victor Haze


Innovation Clusters, Strategy & Business Models

For decades, innovation clusters have been the go-to solution for governments, regions and entrepreneurial networks in order to seek economic growth, job creation and prosperity.

In the wake of recent developments during the pandemic, technology advancements and market upturns, we feel a paradigm shift is emerging.

The traditional triple helix contract of governments, educational institutions and SMEs is no longer the most logical answer to these questions.

Since the start of the Global Cluster Leadership program at Strategy Tools, we have been discussing what is the next logical step. We think it is a fundamental change to a pentagon model of the Supercluster as we call it. But how do we get there? What will be your first steps? Your strategy, and most importantly, your Business Model(s)? All these questions are relevant and we have been looking for answers within our global community of partners, consultants and strategists.

What is a Cluster?

There is an extensive body of literature and research on clusters, as both social phenomena and on-purpose-designed organizations.

In our work, we define clusters with six parameters:

  • Trust-based Collaboration Platforms
  • Public-Private Partnership
  • Magnets
  • Collaboration Networks
  • Problem Solver
  • Economic Engine

Beyond that, we always look at types of clusters and their categories.

Types of Clusters

  • Emerging Cluster
  • Growth Cluster
  • Supercluster

Don’t forget the ‘baby cluster’.

Sometimes we also introduce the concept of ‘baby cluster’, or early business networks that have yet to develop into a fully-functioning cluster. It’s still just too early.

Categories of Clusters

  • Grow
  • Transform
  • Build

Finally, we also define the three categories of a cluster. This refers to the focus of the cluster and its members. Are we growing an existing industry? Are we transforming an existing industry? Or are we building an entirely new industry? This may not always be apparent, but it is critical to the cluster’s long term success and impact.

Six clusters around the world

In the picture above, we have selected six clusters from around the world as examples. These six represent different industries and sectors with different business models and value impact roadmaps. Yet, they all fit perfectly into our definition of clusters.

A new paradigm in the world of clusters

Most clusters and cluster programs around the world are traditionally based on the Triple Helix framework.

The underlying theoretical framework of the cluster was getting industry, academia and government to collaborate better.

That paradigm is rapidly getting outdated.

Since the early 2010’s, a growing number of clusters and cluster programs have been upgrading and expanding their theoretical frameworks to include capital and entrepreneurs.

Today, every cluster needs to update its foundation to better include, involve, activate and serve startups, scale ups, accelerators, incubators, business angels, venture firms and large investment companies.

Welcome to the new cluster paradigm!


Download the full report here if you want get unique cluster business model tools, expert views on the cluster business model revolution and emerging thinking on cluster business models. Pre-register for the Spanish version coming soon this month.

You can also register for the Global Cluster Leadership Program here – an online certification program designed to build capacity for cluster management and develop strategic cluster leadership skills – to dive deeper into an exciting combination of cluster case studies, cluster strategy and leadership exercises and interviews.

If you want to get a taste of the digital strategy simulation Supercluster!, RSVP here to join the 2-hour Supercluster! Digital Discovery Session on 2nd September (11:00 – 13:30 CEST).

Christian Rangen & Victor Haze

Christian Rangen & Victor Haze


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